Sunday, January 29, 2012

Satisfying pre-conclusions to Texas redistricting

I have been wondering why the state of Texas (read: Attorney General Greg Abbott) has been so suddenly willing to abandon its concurrent legal strategies to force discriminatory districts on us all, and reach a settlement that will reportedly favor Democrats, Latino organizations, and others fighting them.

Here's the insight I have been seeking to what, by every appearance to me, looked like folding a winning hand. First, the indomitable Michael Li (go read the entire thing for his cogent observations at the scene of Friday's hearing, some of which I put in this post that came from his Twitter feed):

It’s not clear why the state’s position has shifted so radically. Theories range from pressure to keep Texas relevant to the GOP presidential nomination to concerns about the ruling that the D.C. court might issue to worries of incumbent legislators about a split primary. Or maybe it’s just that Texas Republicans, faced with few good options, are figuring that they can always try redistricting again in January 2013.

And Paul Burka:

Abbott may find himself on the hot seat again, as critics are sure to question (again) his decision to go forum shopping by making an end run around the Department of Justice: going straight to the Republican-dominated district court of the District of Columbia and moving for summary judgment to preclear the state’s congressional and legislative maps. But the D.C. Court found potential evidence of discriminatory intent, and suddenly Abbott’s litigation strategy didn’t look so clever. To be fair to Abbott, he didn’t have much choice; the House supermajority was dead set on maximizing seats for both the House and the Congressional maps. The impulse to overreach is common to large majorities, regardless of party. But the result is that the state’s legal team ran out of time, which would not have occurred had Abbott taken the traditional route of seeking preclearance from the Department of Justice.

And so, in a single stroke, the Republican Legislature has managed to resurrect the Democratic party from the ashes of the 2010 election and the 2003 Tom DeLay midcensus redistricting.

We'll know for sure soon enough, possibly as early as tomorrow.

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